Peering Through The Cloud

…on the shoulders of giants

Greek mythology tells us of a tutor named Cedalion who helped heal the giant Orion after he was blinded. To find the help they needed, Cedalion climbed upon the shoulders of the giant so that he could see through the dense forests before them. Centuries later, “standing on the shoulders of giants” has become a metaphor for how we can gain insight from those who came before us.

I thought this was about the cloud?

Organizations undergoing a cloud transformation have much to learn, not only from the Greeks, but also from modern tech giants. Given the speed at which cloud architecture evolves, it’s easy to feel left behind. But, by understanding how other organizations have approached cloud adoption, we can learn from their successes (and failures), and be in a better position to accelerate a cloud transition.

Great, but where’s my giant?  

There’s no magic beans to grow a cloud platform. Every organization has their own priorities, expectations, and needs. Oracle, AWS, and Pivotal are three companies vocal about their approach to cloud transformations. All three have developed a Cloud Maturity Model, which is a sort of treasure map to the cloud “nirvana”. A good cloud maturity model assesses the current cloud adoption status, illustrates the end goal, and establishes how to measure success. Below are some key takeaways from those models.

Finding Your Giant

When it comes to establishing your own cloud adoption strategy, what can we learn from these maturity models? We see three common traits across these models: starting small, adopting agile practices, and encouraging adoption through value.

Modern cloud architecture doesn’t develop overnight. There’s no magic wand or off-the-shelf solution that can single-handedly tackle the breadth of both technological and business concerns that an organization must overcome during a cloud transition. Instead, the above models start with with small, focused pilot projects to gain understanding before making architectural decisions. This allows developers to gain confidence and familiarity with these new tools, while failing fast when something doesn’t work out. This gives the business early feedback on what is and isn’t working in the cloud transition.

Another recurring theme is adopting agile principles when developing cloud architecture. With the advent of managed services, the ability to instantly provision resources or pivot to a new underlying technology means that architectural designs can, and will, change throughout a cloud adoption. 

Finally, most models stress the importance of adoption. By fostering a community of collaboration, demonstrating popular patterns, and sharing best practices, an ecosystem is created where developers have autonomy, but can also leverage existing work. Not only are developers then attracted to the cloud, the business is as well, since feedback loops are tightened for application development teams.

Out of the Forest

Cedalion, our intrepid adventurer, didn’t make it out of the forest because he was smarter, had more experience, or more resources. He made it out because he leveraged what he already had: a giant. You too can see the path ahead by leveraging the giants who’ve come before us. By focusing on pilot projects, adopting agile architecture, and encouraging adoption, you can build an internal culture that embraces the concepts of a Cloud Native Platform, and tear down the legacy silos of old (preferably while riding on a giant).